New York Methodist Hospital Offers Latest in Diagnostic Testing and Treatment

March 1, 2007

New York Methodist Hospital Offers Latest in Diagnostic Testing and Treatment



According to the National Cancer Institute, about 9 in 1,000 men and 14 in 1,000 women, aged 60 years or older, have undetected thyroid disease. At New York Methodist Hospital, medical professionals who are specially trained in nuclear medicine offer patients at risk for thyroid disease and other life-threatening illnesses a painless and effective option for diagnosis and treatment.

Nuclear medicine, a division of radiology, is made up of two areas: diagnostic nuclear medicine and therapeutic nuclear medicine. Diagnostic nuclear medicine uses special cameras to depict the inner-workings of the patient1s organ, tissue or bone. "Nuclear medicine is a highly specialized field because it can determine the cause of a medical problem based on how an organ is working, as compared to other diagnostic tests that use anatomy or appearance to show the existence and type of disease," said Steven Garner, M.D., chairman of radiology at NYM.

A nuclear medicine diagnostic test can be performed on either an inpatient or outpatient basis at the Hospital. The test is used to identify a number of abnormalities such as the site of seizures, presence of tumors and whether the kidney or stomach is working properly.

"The name ''nuclear medicine'' can seem intimidating to some patients but truthfully the test has no side effects and is better at diagnosing diseases at an earlier stage than other diagnostic procedures," said Lijun Weng, M.D., chief of nuclear medicine at NYM. "The amount of radioactive material used in diagnosis is smaller than that received during an x-ray," she said, adding that the amount is so low that the test is often used on pregnant women.

Like diagnostic nuclear medicine, therapeutic nuclear medicine involves a dose of radiation tailored to the patient''s disease, which is given by mouth or by injection. The radioactive material, which can be made up of different medications aimed at treating various areas of the body, goes directly to the organ to supply treatment or provide pain relief. "Some examples of diseases that benefit from nuclear medicine are hyperthyroidism and many forms of cancer such as thyroid cancer," said Carmen Feld, R.T.N., C.N.M.T., chief nuclear medicine technologist.

To be sure that patients receive safe and proper amounts of radioactive material, Arun Tankiwale, Ph.D., radiation safety officer at NYM, carefully determines every patient''s dosage. "In addition to monitoring the amount of radiation, we also perform quality control on the cameras every morning to make sure the patient''s results will be accurate," he said. This efficiency was noted during a recent New York City Department of Health inspection in which the division of nuclear medicine at NYM received a rating of 100 percent compliance with the standards of practice. "The Department of Health looked at how we administer radiation, read results and collect materials and they had only good things to say about our work," said Dr. Tankiwale. "Nuclear medicine is really a safe and simple way to get lots of useful information that could save a person''s life," added Dr. Garner.

For referral to a physician associated with NYM, please call the Hospital''s Physician Referral Service at 718-499-CARE.



From left, Lijun Weng, M.D., chief of nuclear medicine, Vladimir Vaynshteyn, R.T.N., C.N.M.T., and Alex Ilinsky, R.T.N., perform a diagnostic nuclear medicine procedure.